Sinag Maynila gathered established indie filmmakers to produce full-length films that would reflect Philippine culture and society.
The films from the inaugural edition went on to make the rounds of several international festivals.
Cannes award-winning director Brillante Mendoza and Solar Entertainment’s Wilson Tieng have teamed up once again to bring to fruition some filmmaker’s visions that had only previously been set on paper and burned into their imaginations.
For Sinag Maynila 2016, Direk Brillante admits that the objective was to have more diversity in the film genres. He reiterates that the festival seeks not only to showcase Filipino talent, not only to have a presence in international film festivals, but more importantly, to find avenues of distribution for Filipino films: “There is a market for art house cinema. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, that market is not pursued aggressively because it is too small. In the same way, there is no platform for them locally aside from in film festivals. However, abroad, they were able to cultivate an audience for art house cinema—largely, in Europe.”
The second edition of the Sinag Maynila film fest will kick off this Thursday, April 21, with the screening of the documentary titled Human.
French environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life emotional stories from more than 2,000 women and men in 60 countries for this film. The invitational event will take place at SM Aura at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
For Sinag Maynila 2016, there were more than 130 submissions. Film production grants of P2 million each were given to these five entries: Dyamper, Expressway, Lila, Mrs. and T.P.O. (Temporary Protection Order).
Screenings are scheduled to take place in select SM cinemas from April 22 to 26, 2016.
Director: Mes De Guzman
Cast: Carlo Aquino, Alchris Galura, Timothy Mabalot, Kristoffer King, Liza Dino-Seguerra, and Debbie Garcia.
On the precarious mountain road at Dalton Pass, a zigzag road in Nueva Vizcaya, three friends wait at the dawn of each day to jump into the back of rice delivery trucks that ply the route in order to steal what they can find and sell them at the local wet market. This was a common sight in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the “jumpers” accidentally steals a pack of drugs from one of the trucks and they find themselves on the run from the owners.
Direk Mes De Guzman says: “It is a character-driven story. The twists and turns of the zigzag road where most of the action happens mirrors how the story unfolds. In the milieu of the story, without really trying, the problems of society (i.e. poverty) are inevitably reflected in the film.”
He says the lead stars Carlo Aquino, Alchris Galura, and Timothy Mabalot did their own stunts in the action drama.
“Tumatalon sila sa mga cargo trucks from a cliff. Yung mga cargo trucks galing sa Region 2 provinces. Minsan nakukuha nila sako ng bigas worth P1500 or P1800. Ito ang naging livelihood nila.
“Ginawa namin ang action scenes kunsaan tumatalon sila. Nagpapantal sila kasi makati ang palay.
“Delikado kasi gumagalaw [ang truck] saka [malapit lang] ang bangin.”
He recalled, “Hindi naman sila nagrereklamo pero minsan sasabihin nila, timeout muna. Hinihingal sila kasi tatakbo sila tapos tatalon. Tatalon sila from the cliff, yung crew nakasakay sa truck then [demonstrates], iyan bangin 'yan."
Director: Ato Bautista
Cast: Alvin Anson, Aljur Abrenica, Kiko Matos, Antoinette Reds, Jim Libiran, Japo Parcero, and Judith Javier.
Two hitmen--old-timer Ben (Alvin Anson) and neophyte Morris (Aljur Abrenica)--are on a road trip. For Ben, this is one last job he has to complete before retirement; for the trigger-happy, sadist Morris, it is a chance to impress his new employer: a syndicate boss. The difference in generations shows not only on their physical features but also in their demeanor and motivations. With this awakening, Ben takes it upon himself to pull Morris out of the eventual hell-of-a-life he says he has lived as a hitman.
The action-thriller happens on the road from one end of the highway to the other in the most festive days of December. How their stories unfold during the course of “the job” will be interesting to behold.
Direk Ato Bautista says: “The script was originally written ten years ago, it was written with Rudy Fernandez in mind to play the older character. It took a decade for me to finally make it.”
"Ang Expressway, journey siya ng dalawang killers on a job, on a road trip,” narrates Direk Ato.
"Naisip ko na Christmas season ko isu-shoot ito, paano kung lagyan ko ng Christmas elements? Nagkaroon siya ng parang irony na on the advent of Christmas Day, ang bibisita sa iyo, hindi si Santa Claus kundi dalawang killer."
Why did he choose Aljur as one of the gunmen?
"He fits the role and he's a good collaborator. He's a very good actor.
"Tingin ko Aljur is perfect for any role. Bibihira lang kasi ang actor na may physique na babagay at may charm na babagay for action.”
Direk Ato also revealed, "The role of Alvin Anson was supposedly designed for Daboy, kay Rudy Fernandez.
"We were doing the pre-prod ten years ago but it so happened na hindi siya natuloy. Siguro isang bagay yung nagkasakit na siya at that time."
Director: Gino Santos
Cast: Janine Gutierrez, Enchong Dee, Sherry Lara, and Miggs Cuaderno.
Jess (Janine Gutierrez) is a young woman who, trying to escape her past, moves into the house of a warmhearted landlady. She finds a diary in her room that belonged to an old tenant and eerie events begin to unfold. Even when she tries to break free, the house has other ideas for her. Enchong Dee plays the cousin of Janine’s character who tries to help her cope with her past.
This psychological thriller is based on a short film that the director produced when he was in college.
“I got inspired by article based on a real story in Japan,” recalls Gino Santos. “Lila is not a name of a person. It’s actually the Tagalog term for the color lilac, which means motherly and death at the same time.”
Direk Gino credits Enchong and Janine for helping shape their characters.
He points out that the landlady, played by Sherry Lara, “has an old soul, classic, and mahilig mag-play ng record player para sobrang opposite with Janine's character who is very modern.”
Director: Adolfo Alix Jr.
Cast: Elizabeth Oropesa, Lotlot de Leon, Rosanna Roces, Anita Linda, Mark Herras.
Elizabeth Oropesa stars as Virginia, an aging mother whose house sits at a fault line but due to sentimental reasons, she stays put. Her longtime helper Delia is set to marry her long-time boyfriend, Rene, and go back to the province to start a new family life with him. At the same time, Virginia is haunted by the unresolved disappearance of her son. At a tipping point, she tries to deal with challenges that threaten to rock her world, just as her house is situated in a precarious position, must come to terms with the sad realities of life and its cycle.
Direk Adolf says about Mrs: “Through this film, I show that it is also important to look at the elderly. This is in the same tone as my previous films Adela and Presa.”
He recalls where they got the idea for the story, “Kami ni Ralston Jover [writer], may nakita kaming story tungkol sa isang bahay sa Alabang na nasa faultline. Nasulat ito three or four years ago.”
To sum up the story, Direk Adolf says, “Kuwento siya ni Mrs. Virginia. Nakatira siya sa isang house na nasa fault line. Dahil nasa fault line, may hazards pero she's trying to keep the house.
“Yung household help niya [played by Lotlot de Leon], iiwan na siya kasi magpapakasal na. It's a simple drama tungkol sa buhay niya. May problema siya kasi ang anak niya, matagal nang nawawala. Ilang years nang nawawala.
“Ngayon, nako-confront siya ng idea na yun kasi iiwan na siya ng maid kaya magiging mag-isa na lang siya.”
In the film, Anita Linda is cast as a poet-activist who is also looking for her activist child who is also missing.
Title: T.P.O. (Temporary Protection Order)
Director: Joselito “Jay” Altarejos
Cast: Mara Lopez, Oliver Aquino, Micko Laurente, Menggie Cobarrubias, and Lui Manansala.
T.P.O. is a cautionary tale on domestic abuse that examines the lives of a small family victimized by it.
Straight out of the headlines, Teresa (Mara Lopez) is the battered wife of Miguel (Oliver Aquino). When their son Miguelito (Micko Laurente) becomes a victim of the violence in the process, Teresa seeks a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) against her husband. The narrative features scenes that repeat backwards, as the nature of truth and the many sides of an issue are tackled.
Direk Jay says about his film: “The battered wife and her husband are victims of the system. The film is an attempt to look not only at one side of the situation, but to present the different sides of the story.”
How did he prepare for this movie?
"I researched on the law," said Direk Jay, referring to Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.
"The TPO (Temporary Protection Order) is granted to the victim to prevent the accused from going near the victim or communicate with the victim.
"If the court sees that there is still danger, the court can still issue a Permanent Protection Order.
"Inaral ko yung batas at naghanap ng case studies and we had some workshops.
"It's unfortunate that some people did not understand my process."
After T.P.O., Direk Jay hopes to do another film that "traces the origin of the abuser. Because we always talk about the abused, the victim. There has been no film about the abuser so it's about time also to look into the psyche of the abuser.
"I'm also showing that in T.P.O. because I'm showing two sides of the story: domestic abuse."
The 2nd Sinag Maynila Film Festival will run from April 21 to 26, 2016. The entries will be screened at SM Megamall, SM Aura, SM North Edsa, SM Mall of Asia, and SM Manila.